Issue 29 | Spring 2022


. . . The atomic age blossoms
beyond the bank of backyard windows,
and here, on a regular night, at home.

                                             —Kathleen Flenniken, Plume

The full night of rain has our bodies soaked through.

The stream gutters under the house, and the force
of water claims its path,
                                                                     can even swallow a coastline.

Fears have come back circling the lawn like border dogs.

It’s been oceans since the pipe in the reactor exploded—
my father scrambled up metal ladders,
                                                                     welded rivets in the running dark

and self-checked for radiation. More than once he died,

the inside light behind him spitting up red.
Already the maps dissolve
                                                                     like my mother going home,

but showing up at the wrong house. I learned to get on

by myself, watching other women straightening
girls’ dresses, keeping something alive
                                                                     with their voices.

Even now I weep motionless.

The water well floods, and its alarm fades
like a heart doused of its beating.
                                                                     As you turn from me,
understand I cling. At the back of your neck

here is my mouth and the imploded dome of a half moon
above us ready to infect again
                                                                     the air we breathe in.

Filed under: Poetry

Shawn Fawson lives with her spouse and cat in Louisville, CO. Her book Giving Way was published by The Bitter Oleander Press.